During the Tablet PC launch keynote, Gates talked about "immersive reading" and ... a usable experience for interacting with published media on a computing device. .... I think it will be a lonnnng time before people are comfortable reading War and Peace or Wired on a computer screen. I like the physical asset aspect of literature and published media in general....The value of literature is much, much more than just the words and the stories they tell. [Matt Pope's Radio Weblog]
I disagree. Not about the sensual experience of print or the bevy of cultural aspects (I have a bookshelf of first editions of Patrick O'Brian novels in my living room -- of course it's a statement!), but about the desirability and usability of the vast majority of print. Just last week, I threw out several hundred pounds (14 shopping bags) of computer books out of sheer shelf-space consideration. And every time I do this, I find myself a month later regretting having thrown out a specific title. I would much rather my technical library be on DVD or CDs than in print.
Having used a Tablet PC for the past 3 weeks, there's no doubt that it's the best way to read long digital pieces to date. Is it perfect? Not even close; even with sub-pixel anti-aliasing a la ClearType, the screen is not yet at the resolution of a laser printer, much less that of a printing press. But in a world where, for instance, the release candidate of Thinking in C# is available in a \\(5 digital version or can be ordered at Amazon for \\)34.99, the economics of digital are compelling. Would I read War and Peace on a computer screen? Well, a digital version from Project Gutenberg for free and a print version from Amazon is \$13.95; for me, who has no book shelf space and, let's face it, I might never get beyond the first chapter, I'd go with Gutenberg. And why kill a tree for the kind of disposable fiction that you buy before a plane flight? The tablet formfactor is one that you can actually read while sitting on a train or plane, which makes it vastly different from both notebooks and PDAs. If you don't believe me, I strongly advise you to try it: buy a Tablet PC and the release candidate of Thinking in C#.